Zooming around with Zoe: January was a warm one for most of the US


GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — While it may have felt pretty cold to us this January, across the country was a different story.

Last month, the average contiguous US temperature was 34.6 F, 4.5 degrees hotter than normal, making it the 10th consecutive January with temperatures above average, and tying for the ninth warmest on record. North and South Dakotah ranked third and fifth warmest, respectively.

Above-average temperatures across the Great Lakes prevented ice from forming, with only 2.4% of the surface covered by ice on Jan. 24, the lowest extent for that day in the last 48 years. In Alaska, temperatures were around 10 degrees above average, the warmest since 2016, contributing to the ninth-lowest Bering Sea ice extent in the last 43 years.

Eastern North Carolina, however, saw very normal temperatures this January. But, it did seem like we got a lot of rain last month, with the state ranking 37th wettest on record for January 2021.

While North Carolina was damp, over 45% of the continental US was in a drought to end the month, making it in the driest third of January on record. California got a brief break from the dry spell with an atmospheric river dumping significant rain and snow, but the state will need a lot more precipitation to keep it out of the drought stage by summer.

Altogether, America has seen a warmer and slightly drier start to the year than normal. But, with over 10 months left to go, we’ll just have to wait and see how the rest of 2021 turns out.

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